Georgia Hike With Kids: Arabia Mountain.

So I’ve mentioned before that I’ve been researching a lot of Georgia State Parks and everything they have to offer in preparation of our yearly goal.

The great thing that’s happened is that I’ve discovered so many other great hiking adventures that are near us — that are not necessarily state parks!

And I must give credit where credit is due.  I’ve gotten the majority of my ideas from two blogs: 365 Atlanta Family and Atlanta Trails.

They are both excellent resources if you’re interested!  Both have specific blog entries dedicated to hiking with kids around the Atlanta area.

And that is how I came to discover Arabia Mountain.

I knew about Panola Mountain State Park, which is near Arabia, but I didn’t realize that Arabia was its own thing.

And its own really beautiful thing at that!

I was amazed!  It was like a smaller way-way-way-less-crowded version of Stone Mountain.

We went on Valentine’s Day — and the great thing was that some of the diamorpha, a tiny, rare plant that blooms crimson in early spring, was starting to come up in some spaces!  I was thrilled!

And this place was great for my kids because Alice loves climbing rocks, and Tom loves climbing mountains.  This place had both.

I could barely keep up with Tom. He practically ran up the mountain!

We brought a picnic lunch and enjoyed the day. It was really, really great.

We will definitely visit again and explore more.

(Specifically, we did the Arabia Mountain Top Trail.)

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Tiny Tom is waving at me from way up there! And this pic is un-edited.  The sky was really THAT blue.

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Posted in Baby Girl, Family, Georgia Outdoors, Kevin, Motherhood, Tom | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Georgia State Parks: George L. Smith State Park.

April park: George L. Smith State Park

Our April park was one that I really wanted to do, but I wasn’t sure the best way to get there.

It’s a little over 3 hours from our house (if you’re a Georgian, it’s near Metter), but since my parents live south of us, I was hoping that I could combine a visit with them with a visit to this park.

And that’s exactly what we did!

After Easter in Eastman, we drove to George L. Smith.

Huck was with us for this trip, and we stayed in a dog-friendly cabin.

Here’s the one thing I want to tell you about their cabins: They are awesome.

It had an amazing and big screened porch, a fireplace, a dining room, kitchen, living room (with a TV and DVD player, which we hadn’t experienced at a state park before), and it was two bedrooms with two full baths.

“Our yard” had this huge magnolia tree (perfect for my climbing girl), and the side yard was HUGE!  Huck was off leash (rebel alert) most of the time, because the space for him to explore was so big!

I pretty much wanted to move in.

I’m telling you all of this because it’s a state park that is not really close to anything that I could tell.  So staying a cabin is probably a good call, and you’ll be thrilled!

Okay, so the coolest thing about George L. Smith State Park is the cypress trees that are growing in the water.  And the water?  It’s super black and really reflective.  It was amazing!

You can rent any kind of boat from the park.

We rented a standard paddle boat (row boat) the first day, and were able to paddle into the thick of some of the trees.

The second day, we rented the coolest pedal boat ever — Kevin and I sat in the front and pedaled, and Tom and Alice sat in the back enjoying snacks!  It was really neat.

We were able to see so many things that we wouldn’t have seen otherwise, and I’m so, so thrilled we went.

(They also rent canoes, kayaks and paddle boards.)

And y’all?

Kevin said this was his FAVORITE PARK SO FAR.

And Tom agreed!

(I can’t choose yet.  I really, truly have loved them all!)

((Alice loves Providence best!  Even though she got a blister and splinter, it’s still her favorite.  Ha!))

What I’m saying it: It was really amazing.  You should visit.

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(Osprey nest at the top of that tree!  We could see them in there.)

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Babies giggling in there.

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Read about our other Georgia State Park adventures so far this year!

January park: Sweetwater Creek State Park.
February park: FDR State Park.
March park: Providence Canyon State Park

Follow our adventures on Instagram! #12parksin2015

Posted in Baby Girl, Family, Georgia State Parks, Huck, Kevin, Motherhood, Tom, Travel | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

Easter In Eastman.

Every year, we travel to Eastman where my parents have a farm with a pond that was first owned/built by my great-grandparents.

My mom’s entire family come out and fish, boat and play all day, and then we have an Easter egg hunt for the littles.

It’s a wonderful tradition, and something I look forward to all year.

This year we were blessed with amazing weather and it was the greatest of great days.

(Tom caught his first two fish EVER.  So happy!)

LOVE.

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Posted in Baby Girl, Family, Holidays, Kevin, Motherhood, Tom | 2 Comments

Georgia State Parks: Providence Canyon.

Y’all?

I am LOVING this family goal of visiting a different Georgia State Park each month!!

It’s so fun!  There are just so many options out there, and so far every, single park we’ve visited has been amazing.

There has been something unique about each place, and I love that!

But what I really love is that we’re doing all of these adventures together.

It’s been such a special thing for us, and I’m so thankful!

Okay, so!  Our March park!

I have been wanting to visit this place FOR-EV-ER!

In March, we finally visited Providence Canyon State Park!

I’ve heard about it for a long time, but it’s not really convenient to where we live, so it’s never been visited. (It’s about 2.5 hours from us.)

Providence Canyon does not have cabin rentals, but the nearby Florence Marina State Park does.  (It’s very close — basically about 5 miles down the same road.)

We didn’t do a cabin this time, but if we do it again someday, we probably will — because I kind of suspect the long drive there was a teensy bit hard on the kiddos.

But I will say, we had been to our February park just the weekend before, so maybe they were kind of over traveling in general.

Here’s the thing about Providence: It was awesome!

It’s really neat to see!

I am so glad that we went, because it was definitely unique and really, really great to see!

(Disclaimer: I’ve been to the Grand Canyon, and I still thought this was cool!)

When we arrived, Tom ran over to the overlook and said, “Oh. My. Gosh!!!  Mom!  Look at this!!”

The kids were impressed!

We had a picnic lunch, the kids played on the playground, we hiked the trail to the bottom of the canyons (it’s not a long hike), and then we hiked down at the bottom a bit before going back up.

We didn’t spend a ton of time at the bottom because I’d put the kids in Crocs knowing the bottom was sandy and wet, but Alice had gotten a blister wearing them on the playground, so she refused to walk down there.  And then the poor girl got a splinter.  So this was not her day.

But the thing about Alice is that she is a real trooper, so even though she had an off day, she was still happy and smiling.

It was really, really neat and I would really love to re-visit it — with my kids in socks and sneakers! ;)

Here’s how our day looked:

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Read about our other Georgia State Park adventures so far this year!

January park: Sweetwater Creek State Park.
February park: FDR State Park.

Posted in Baby Girl, Family, Georgia State Parks, Huck, Kevin, Motherhood, Tom | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Alice’s 3rd Birthday Party: Mary Poppins.

Alice had a Mary Poppins themed birthday party this year — and it was supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!

Kevin asked me if I went overboard on this party, and the answer is: kinda?

I went overboard as far as crafting and theme-ing goes.  I love Mary Poppins, and I just wanted to try so many different things.

And I will tell you, that I absolutely did NOT do everything I wanted to — so see?  Not totally overboard!

I really reeled myself in!  You’re welcome!

Welcome to Alice’s Mary Poppins birthday party!

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Games:

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Pin the Bowtie on the Penguin. (My sister did this for me, as I have no artistic skills!  Isn’t it perfect?!)

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Horse races! (I made horses out of $1 mops.)

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Sidewalk chalk pictures!

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Tuppence toss.  Alice helped me make this game (you throw pennies on there and try to land on a dot) and it was HARD!  I think I got one after trying about 20 times!

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Let’s Go Fly a Kite!  (I made these kites on sticks and they were the biggest hit.  My kids are still playing with them a month later!)

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Cake:

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She wanted to use a little spoon from the cupcakes (a spoonful of sugar!) to eat her big cake.  Okay, birthday girl!

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Overboard: I made cookies that spelled out supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.  Even I know this was ridiculous, but I couldn’t help it!

Birthday girl:

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She had THE. BEST. time. I loved, loved, loved her party, and was so happy with how happy she was.  We had her party at our pool’s clubhouse, and invited only family and one friend — and it was very special and fun and cute.

Happy 3rd birthday to my sweet Alice!  Who is practically perfect in every way!

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Posted in Baby Girl, Crafts, Motherhood, Parties | 1 Comment

Alice Is THREE.

Dear Alice,

Happy Birthday!!

Your big day is finally here, and I know you’re going to be thrilled!

You know what I love about you?

Well…everything.

And also?

That you love to play mommy.

You take very good care of your pretend babies, and you’re always so, so excited to hold any real baby who crosses your path.

You will constantly say, “I can hold them.  I’m a BIG GIRL and will be careful.”  And then you immediately sit down and hold your arms out.   And you *are* always very careful.

You love to “cook.”  You have made many, many bowls of oats and water and every spice we have on the counter — all while “reading” your “recipe.”

You love your gymnastics class!  You love your music class!

You practice all your gymnastics moves — you love the balance beam and bars.

You know the words to all of your music class songs, and all the movements.

And do you know what you really love about those two classes?

That I’m there with you.

You love to wear pajamas.  I used to try to get you to change into clothes to go out, but now I don’t.  You have your own sense of style and you totally know what you want to look like before we go somewhere.

Sometimes that means you’re wearing pajamas, a superhero cape, a pilot’s hat, while carrying a purple Easter purse — and I love that.

Everyone loves that, actually.  You get many compliments. ;)

You love to make crafts, and want to paint or glue something everyday.

You love to be outside — to swing and go down the slide.

You love to climb trees!  If ever I lose sight of you in the backyard, I know I just have to look up — you will be in a tree.

You LOVE your brother.  You guys play so well together, and it’s awesome.

He is your very best friend.

You love chocolate.  And sweet tea.  And cupcakes.

You love to play games.

You love for Mommy to chase you.  And to ride on Daddy’s back pretending he’s a horsey.

You love to share your snacks with Huckles.

You love to dance.

You love, love your family.  You love making friends.

You are just…an absolute joy to us all.

You are growing up to be such a smart, funny, kind and loving girl and I just cannot wait to see you as a 3-year-old.

Much LOVE to you, my sweet, wonderful girl!

I hope you have the BEST DAY EVER!

LOVE,
Mommy

View More: http://crystalbarbeephotography.pass.us/gelsthorpe-family

Posted in Baby Girl, Family, Letter, Motherhood | 2 Comments

Alice’s Best 2-Year-Old Quotes.

Alice as a 2-year-old has been really funny.

She is so smart.  And she repeats things so well.

And those things add up to being pretty hysterical sometimes.

Here are my top 6  favorite quotes from Alice this past year…

( I was going to choose five, but just couldn’t.  There should be more Top 6 lists anyway!)

1. March 5:
Me: “I told you to stop and you didn’t.”
Alice: “But I paused!”

2. March 4:
Me: “Look at that big airplane up there!  Where do you think they’re going?”
Alice: “Umm…probably Dairy Queen.”

3. February 16:
Alice: “Mom? Your hair looks like seaweed.”

4. January 16:
Tom: “Why did you put stickers on this?”
Alice (matter-of-fact): “Because I wanted it to look great.”

5. December 2:
Me: “You need to take a bath.”
Alice: “Whatever, Kate!”

6. September 17:
Alice: “This is my baby. Her name is Mothball.”

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LOVE this sweet, funny girl!!

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